Posts Tagged ‘competitors’

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”  Sun Tzu

Step 5: Do a detailed situational estimate

Rational, deliberate decision making and planning nearly always trump intuition, instinct, and automated response patterns. Too often, leaders and managers default to habit and existing reactions when they should be analyzing the situation in detail to determine new threats and opportunities.

When I consult with executives and entrepreneurs, I frequently hear, “But that’s the only way to do it!” Even worse, I often encounter claims that “we’ve always done it that way,” or “that’s not the way we do it here.” The problem is that the habitual pattern works, until it doesn’t. Also, in business you should be looking for the unusual and the novel, not what everyone else “knows” or does.

Whenever I come up against such resistance, I always frame the situation as indicated in the following diagram. To the exclamation that there is only one possible way, I ask what the aim is. Sometimes it’s the actual mission we’ve identified in the mission analysis process. But sometimes it’s something more mundane or inconsequential. Regardless, we need to know what our purpose is and why we are aiming for it.

situational-estimate

Then follows the enumeration and consideration of all the various factors impinging on the decision. I give a full list in Brilliant Manoeuvres (pp. 170-1), but in sum, we must look at competitive, natural, human, temporal, and technological/technical considerations. Moreover, if we’ve maintained situational awareness and conducted a proper reconnaissance, most of that information will now be highly relevant.

From this analysis, we must, I repeat, must, develop several possible courses of action. Simply put, there is always more than one option for how to proceed, and refusal to consider a range of possibilities is irresponsible. So, at this point, the process requires the generation of at least three different options. We then compare them, using the factors and other decision criteria. The optimal course of action, i.e., the best one given the situation and our goals, then becomes the basis for detailed plan development and execution. A big advantage is also that, having considered various scenarios and options, we have also made a start on developing sequel and contingency plans.

However, it’s important to note that part of the comparison of options and decision process are contingent upon their performance against potential scenarios and competitor/opposing courses of action. This is where the “war game” comes into play, but that is actually step 6 in the Business Readiness Process, which I’ll consider in the next newsletter.

Business Readiness Process (BRP)

  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.
My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.
© 2016 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Goal-setting is a buzzword (or is that buzzterm?) that gets bandied about a lot. We’re supposed to set clear goals so everyone is motivated and knows what to aim for.

Forget SMART goals though: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Sometimes the last thing we need is an “achievable” goal, much less a “realistic” one. Most accomplishments–and they needn’t be monumental or earth-shaking in scope–appear unrealistic and unachievable in at least some respects to some people some of the time. The other things are useful, but speed, surprise, and originality can be just as important, if not moreso, especially if you’re in highly competitive situation.

Instead, I propose defining the end state you’re looking to create. This comes from military practice, where a commander clearly communicates what the battlefield or operation will achieve in very concrete terms: for instance, the enemy has withdrawn from objective X and is on the run; our forces have seized objective X and are in a strong position to exploit to line Z 20 km beyond the objective.

This type of goal creates a vision that anyone can relate to. Moreover, it sets the parameters for what is needed to get there. “If this is what the end state looks like, then what do we have to do and by when, with what resources, and in what manner, for that to become the new reality?”

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

In battle the best way to defeat an entrenched enemy is to hit him in his weak spot or, even better, manoeuvre around him completely to make his position untenable (and irrelevant). By the same token, a company can outflank or bypass the competition through innovation and savvy market manoeuving. Here are some questions from Brilliant Manoeuvres to improve your ability to use the indirect approach:

  • Are there customers, segments, or entire markets that are currently inadequately served or ignored by established competitors?
  • Are there existing products and services that could be modified to better meet these needs?
  • Are there components or technologies that could be re-combined or suitably modified to meet these needs?
  • Could you effectively outflank and bypass the competition by exploiting these under-served or ignored needs?
  • What competencies and resources can you bring to bear to exploit these opportunities?
  • What financial, human, technical, marketing, and sales capabilities could you develop or acquire to bypass the competition?
  • Can you keep the risks within acceptable bounds? What means could you use to do so?

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

The best way to defeat an entrenched enemy is to go around him, exposing weaknesses and gaps in the defence, and exploiting them to go beyond his defences in order to threaten his whole position.

  • Are there customers, segments, or entire markets that are currently inadequately served or ignored by established competitors?
  • Are there existing products and services that could be modified to better meet these needs?
  • Are there components or technologies that could be re-combined or suitably modified to meet these needs?
  • Could you effectively outflank and bypass the competition by exploiting these under-served or ignored needs?
  • What competencies and resources can you bring to bear to exploit these opportunities?
  • What financial, human, technical, marketing, and sales capabilities could you develop or acquire to bypass the competition?
  • Can you keep the risks within acceptable bounds? What means could you use to do so?

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • What are your expansion or sustainment plans? Do you have sufficient financial, production, logistical, and operational capability to exploit opportunities? How can you free up such resources? Have you empowered your managers to seek out and exploit these opportunities? Have you given them the tools and resources to do so?
  • Have you developed contingency plans and capabilities to press an initial advantage, whether offensively or defensively? Do you have resources and capabilities on standby, or can you reallocate them from underperforming areas of the company? Are your people empowered to press your advantages so they can turn initial incursions into breakthroughs? Do they have the resources to do so?
  • Do you have the staying power to survive and thrive beyond the initial push into a new product-market segment? Can you sustain the advance and turn tactical and operational victories into strategic ones?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • Do you find yourself continually responding to competitors’ actions or do you instead initiate changes that your competitors must respond to?
  • Do your competitors find you predictable? Is there something you could start doing that would be out of character, but that would put them on the defensive and give you back the initiative?
  • How do you define your mission and business? Is it a narrow view-providing a particular category of product or service-or is it a wider view-searching for ways of fulfilling customer needs at a more general or abstract level? Could you widen the scope of your business by redefining your business and mission?
  • Is it likely that you will still be serving exactly the same customers in the same way in one year, two years, five years, or even ten years? What would have to happen for this situation to remain the same at those time intervals? This will give you an indication of how realistic your forecasts are.
  • Are your decisions today likely to hem you in in the short, medium, or long terms? What can you do to innovate while maintaining your freedom of action in the longer term?
  • How fast can you move to implement new strategies and tactics?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Step 4 in the Battle Readiness procedure we’ve been examining is the estimate and plan.

  • The estimate is a sequential process for assessing the situation and determining key factors, options, and consequences of actions (friendly and enemy). The result of the estimate is a plan.
  • This might seem a bit obvious, but the estimate always starts with a clear understanding and statement of the AIM. You have to know your objective before you can analyze your courses of action and decide on the best one. Omitting the aim is ALWAYS the biggest mistake people make.
  • The key factors to consider in formulating options and plans are:
    • Climate & weather (social, economic, and political environments)
    • Enemy (competitors, big and small, old and new)
    • Terrain (markets)
    • Friendly forces (products and services)
    • Time & space (when, where, how long)
    • Speed & surprise
    • Resources at your disposal (and any gaps)
    • Logistics & support
    • Command, control, communications (who’s in charge, etc.)
  • Generate different courses of action, both for you and for COMPETITORS and other STAKEHOLDERS (whether supportive or hostile). Select the optimal course of action.
  • Your plan should be based on the optimal solution to achieve your aim. Discarded or sub-optimal courses of action (friendly and enemy) may provide input for contingency planning and risk management.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is a Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.